A new video series released today by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NBC Learn aims to help viewers better understand the inner workings of the brain – one of the most complex structures in the universe. The series, “Mysteries of the Brain,” covers the latest advances in neuroscience and profiles the scientists who are leading it, drawing on cutting-edge research conducted in the White House BRAIN Initiative.
Melina Hale, PhD, professor of organismal biology and anatomy, hosts one of the eight-part series, guiding viewers through the “Evolving Brain.” To unlock how the brain works, Hale’s research focuses on one of the brain’s main jobs – movement. For almost every movement an organism makes, the brain has undergo a complex series of steps – take in sensory information from the body, compile and process the information, compute a response and then send a series of commands back to muscles, all in a few dozen milliseconds.
Hale and her team, including graduate student Richard Williams, use cutting-edge technologies to investigate how the brains and neurons of fish control movement. By carefully studying neural circuits in a variety of fish, including zebrafish fry and lungfish (an ancient species), they hope to reveal the neural mechanisms of motor control and how it evolved. Not only does her work shed light on the evolution and function of the brain, it could also inform bio-inspired design, such as autonomous undersea vehicles.
Join Hale in as she discusses this topic during a Twitter chat hosted by NBC Learn on Wednesday, June 10, from 5-6 p.m. Central Time, hashtag #ExplainTheBrain. “Mysteries of the Brain” will be available through NBC affiliate stations, and can also be seen for free online at NBCLearn.com, NSF.gov and Science360.gov. Lesson plans developed by the National Science Teachers Association for middle and high school students will be available later this summer.